How Far Back Does a Background Check Go in Georgia? (2023 FCRA Law)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | December 30, 2022

Man looking at the state of Georgia and a Georgia background check report on a computer screen has a question mark over his head and wonders how far back does a background check go in Georgia.

Many individuals who find themselves wondering how far back does a background check go in Georgia, should know the new FCRA law does not allow for arrests to be reported if more than 7 years have passed.

However, convictions can be reported indefinitely in Georgia and in most other states.

In fact, each state has its own laws that can supersede FCRA, dictating how far back does a background check go in Georgia.

Aside from the FCRA laws, there are plenty of Georgia state laws that individuals should be aware of when they are preparing for a Georgia background check.

Keep reading to learn more.

How Far Back Does a Background Check Go in Georgia?

When it comes to how far back does a background check go in Georgia, there are a few things to consider. The first is how far back background checks are legally allowed to go.

Many individuals may have heard that criminal background checks are not able to go back more than 7 years or that an individual’s record clears after seven years. Unfortunately these are both misconceptions.

The common misconception regarding the 7-year rule and criminal history information likely stems from a misinterpretation of the FCRA.1 The FCRA is a federal legislation aimed at protecting consumer information and enacting fairness in hiring policies, specifically when it comes to performing background checks.

One of the more notable provisions of the FCRA is the 7-year rule. This rule applies specifically to arrest records, according to the FCRA, background check agencies are not allowed to report arrest information that is older than 7 years to employers that are performing background checks on their employees.

Many individuals will believe this means that all criminal history information that is older than 7 years will not appear, however this is not the case. This provision is intended to prevent discrimination against individuals who were arrested for a crime but never formally convicted in court.

The 7-year rule applies exclusively to arrests. Convictions are still able to be reported with no time limits under the FCRA.

With all that being said, there are no state laws in Georgia regarding how far back a background check can go, so individuals can expect any conviction information that is on their criminal history to be present when performing a background check.

In short, Georgia background checks go back forever.

GA Background Check Laws

There are only a handful of GA background check laws currently in effect.

One of the main reasons that Georgia and many other states have few state-level laws regarding background check practices is because all states must abide by the FCRA which already includes numerous laws and regulations regarding background checks.

Screenshot of Augusta, Georgia website page for policy & procedure manuals with yellow arrow on ban-the-box.

Georgia is one of a handful of states that have ban-the box laws on the books, which prevent an employer from asking about criminal history during the application process.

There are only two notable Georgia laws regarding background checks. The first is the Georgia ban-the-box law.2 Ban the box laws are growing in popularity all over the country and more and more states adopt them each year.

Basically, a ban-the-box law prevents employers from asking about the criminal history information of an applicant until they have reached a certain point in the hiring process. This is done to prevent employers from discriminating against individuals based on their criminal history record before they have determined if the individual is qualified for the job.

The name of the law refers to the box on some job applications that individuals will need to check if they have ever been convicted of a crime.

The other relevant state law in regard to the disclosure and dissemination of criminal records.3

Basically this law requires employers that deny employment to applicants based on their criminal records to provide a written explanation as to what information resulted in the decision as well as where that information was obtained.

How Far Back Do Background Checks Go?

When it comes to how far back do background checks go, it is important to know how far they are legally allowed to go back, as well as how far back they are likely to go.

As mentioned, per the FCRA and Georgia state law, background checks can go back forever when it comes to conviction information. This may be a cause for concern for individuals who have criminal records from 15+ years ago, but there is a silver lining.

Most private background check companies that are used by employers operate all over the country. Since there are more and more states putting strict limits on how far a background check can go for all criminal history information, these companies often adopt policies that work for every state.

This means that even in states like Georgia where criminal history information can go back forever, many background check agencies will still only look at the last 7 years of criminal history information when conducting background checks.

Related Reading: Free Criminal Background Check Methods in 2022 (Criminal Records Search)

10-Year Background Check States

Further adding to the confusion of 7-year background checks are the 10-year background check states. As mentioned, some states have expanded the 7-year rule set by the FCRA to include conviction information.

This means that background checks conducted in these 7-year states can’t report any kind of criminal history information that is older than 7 years on a background check.

However, some of these states have a small exception to this rule that applies to certain jobs.

Generally, jobs that make over $70,000 annually will not be subject to the 7-year rule when screening their employees. Instead, they will be able to search out criminal history information that is up to 10 years old.

Georgia Background Check Laws: How Far Back Does a Background Check Go in Georgia?

Georgia background check laws can get somewhat confusing especially when individuals consider the existing laws set by the FCRA. However, many of these laws are not as confusing as they seem and most will not apply to the average applicant that is undergoing a pre-employment background check.

As mentioned, the most notable background check laws in the state are the ban-the-box laws and laws that govern how employers notify applicants that were denied employment due to their criminal history.

Another background check law that is unique to Georgia is the Probation of first offenders law.4 This law makes it so only certain employers, such as schools and hospitals, are allowed to consider first-offender information that appears on a criminal background check.

Georgia and some other states have adopted first-offender laws that are aimed at minimizing the impact a criminal conviction has on a first-time offender and essentially allow their record to stay clean despite a conviction.

How Many Years Can an Employer Go Back on a Background Check in Georgia?

Individuals wondering how many years can an employer go back on a background check in Georgia may be surprised to find that employers are able to go back forever.

Despite misconceptions regarding the seven-year rule and similar laws, Georgia criminal history checks are legally allowed to go back indefinitely when searching for conviction information.

Under the FCRA, arrest records that did not result in a conviction can not be reported by background check agencies after 7 years.

Georgia Background Check Form

Some jobs in Georgia will require individuals to undergo a state background check, rather than a background check that is conducted by a private agency.

Individuals in this situation will likely want to know where to find a Georgia background check form and what to expect from the process.

Screenshot of Georgia Secretary of State website page for forms with yellow arrow on employment criminal background check consent form.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (and all professional background checks) require consent from the person whose criminal history is being searched.

When completing a Georgia background check, individuals will need to complete a Georgia Crime Information Consent Form, this form allows the employer to receive any criminal history information that is available from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.5

GCIC Background Check

Some individuals who need to obtain a state background check may be unfamiliar with the GCIC background check process. The Georgia Crime Information Center is a law enforcement agency that is specifically tasked with performing criminal history checks in the state of Georgia.6

Unlike most private background check services, the GCIC employs the use of a fingerprint-based criminal history check, as opposed to the name-based checks that most individuals will be used to.

Screenshot of Georgia.gov website page for divisions with yellow arrow on Crime Information Center.

The Georgia Crime Information Center provides legal information about how public criminal records can be legally searched, as well as how to conduct live scans and e-audits.

A GCIC criminal history check will likely include the same information as many of the privately performed criminal history checks in the state but these checks are far more likely to include the individual’s entire criminal history information, instead of just the last 7 years.

Georgia Fingerprint Background Check

A Georgia fingerprint background check is performed by the GBI and is the standard method of criminal history check performed at the state level.7 Not every individual will need a GBI fingerprint check or may be simply uncomfortable with the fingerprinting process.

Individuals can also visit their local police department to obtain a name-based criminal history check.

Georgia Criminal Background Check Online

Individuals seeking a Georgia criminal background check online may be disappointed to find that there is no completely online criminal history check available at the state level.

However, the GBI does outline all the information that individuals might want to know when it comes to obtaining an official criminal background check on their website.8

How Long Does a Background Check Take in Georgia?

How long does a background check take varies by state. And so many individuals wondering how long does a background check take in Georgia, might be surprised to find that most background checks are completed in just a matter of days.

Exactly how long the check takes will depend on a few factors such as who is performing the checks, but the average name-based check will take less than a week and can even be completed in just a few days in some situations.

Individuals getting official background checks through the GBI or another state agency will likely have to wait longer. Fingerprint-based background checks tend to take longer than name-based checks but individuals should still expect the check to be completed in less than two weeks.

Related Reading: Why Is My Background Check Taking So Long To Come Back? (Bad News)

Georgia Criminal Background Check for Employment

Being asked to undergo a Georgia criminal background check for employment is extremely common these days. Background checks are easier, cheaper, and faster than ever so most employers see no reason not to screen their employees.

If you’re curious about how long does a criminal background check take, it typically takes between one and three days, which is why companies can conduct background checks at any time.

Screenshot of Georgia.gov website page for divisions with yellow arrow on GCIC criminal history information.

There are a number of legal conditions connected to searching GCIC criminal history information.

Individuals asked to undergo such a check will usually only be required to sign a form that authorizes the check and the employer will then take care of the rest. State law requires that the employer notify individuals of the results of the check.

Remember, when it comes to how far back does a background check go in Georgia, employers performing private background checks are allowed to go back as far as possible, however most will only check the previous seven years of criminal records.

Free Background Check Georgia

All official background checks in Georgia will require a fee of some kind but individuals looking for a free background check Georgia will have a few options available.

The easiest option for most individuals will be to simply use the search bar at the top of this page to perform public records search on the name entered. This will act as a highly effective criminal background check that individuals can use to perform a check on themselves or someone they know.

Other options include using a private background check that offers a 7-day free trial background check.

Georgia Crime Information Center Background Check

The Georgia crime information center background check is the official state-level background check offered in the state. Although anyone can use this service to perform a background check on themselves, most employers will rely on a private background check service rather than a state check.

Screenshot of Georgia.gov website page for services with yellow arrows on links to pdf file for criminal records restriction request form.

Employers must abide by legal conditions connected to background check information and criminal history searches.

The state check will include a criminal history check of all state records in Georgia, but unlike some other checks performed by state law enforcement agencies, will not include a national criminal history check.

State checks are required for certain jobs in the state, mainly those employed in the state government such as teachers and other state government employees.

Aside from using a private background check service, individuals will be able to perform a Georgia criminal records search through the Georgia Courts.9

Screenshot of Judicial Council of Georgia Administrative Office of the Courts website page for court services with yellow arrow on find a court case.

Court cases are considered public information and can be searched online in Georgia using the E-access to court records.

The Georgia criminal court system allows individuals to use their E-access system to electronically search and request court records for the state. Individuals can simply perform a search on any name they would like to obtain all criminal records for that particular individual.

What States Don’t Share Criminal Records?

Some individuals will have heard that it is possible to simply move to a different state to minimize the effects of a state criminal record. These individuals might be wondering what states don’t share criminal records?

Unfortunately, the sharing of criminal records is a fairly obsolete practice. Although some state law enforcement background checks will only search state records, all private background checks will search for national criminal records.

Basically, it is not possible to hide from a criminal record by moving to a different state, as almost all background checks will include criminal history information from the entire country.

Will a Felony Show Up on a Background Check After 10 Years?

Some individuals might be wondering will a felony show up on a background check after 10 years after hearing about the 7 and 10-year rule.

In most states, a felony will show up on a background check forever. The only exception to this is states that follow the seven-year rule, in which case private checks performed within these states will not uncover criminal history information that is older than 10 years.

However, federal background checks performed by the FBI will still uncover this information as they are not restricted by state laws.10

When Does the 7 Years Start on a Background Check?

Some individuals might have questions like when does the 7 years start on a background check, and will want to know the likelihood of certain information appearing on a background check. The 7-year period that the 7-year rule refers to begins on the day that the charges are filed for the crime.

How Far Back Does a Criminal Background Check Go?

Those wondering how far back does a criminal background check go are likely undergoing a pre-employment or tenant check. However, as discussed above, there are tons of different kinds of background checks, many of which have their own unique rules.

How Far Back Do Federal Background Checks Go for Employment?

Before undergoing an FBI background check many people will want to know how far back do federal background checks go for employment, and may be concerned about their criminal record.

Federal background checks do not need to abide by any state laws so individuals should expect their entire criminal history to be checked as part of a background check for a federal job.

How Far Back Does a Fingerprint Background Check Go?

Some individuals might be curious about how far back does a fingerprint background check go, and will want to know if they have different rules than name-based checks. The method of check makes no difference when it comes to how far back the check can go.

In Georgia, all background checks can go back forever.

How Far Back Does a Level 2 Background Check Go?

Another common question individuals have is how far back does a level 2 background check go, and if there are any differences between a standard check and a level 2 check.

In most cases, a level 2 background check is more of a marketing term used to indicate slightly more intensive checks. Level 2 checks will still need to abide by state laws, meaning they can go back forever in most states.

How Far Back Does a Background Check Go in Georgia?

When it comes to how far back does a background check go in Georgia, the answer is quite simple.

A Georgia background check can search for conviction information for an individual’s entire life. However, arrest information is restricted to the last 7 years due to regulations set by the FCRA.

Not knowing what to expect from a background check is a tough situation to be in. Individuals wondering how far back does a background check go in Georgia should know that criminal history checks will cover the individual’s entire life.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Far Back Does a Background Check Go in Georgia

How Far Back Does an Employment Background Check Go?

In most states an employment background check can go back forever, however there are some exceptions to this. Seven-year states only allow background checks to search the last 7-10 years of criminal history information and certain records, such as arrests that did not end in a conviction.

How Far Back Do Criminal Background Checks Go?

Criminal background checks are subject to state laws and the FCRA when it comes to how far back they can go. In most states, conviction information can be searched for the individual’s entire life, but non-conviction arrests are limited to 7 years.

How Far Back Does First Advantage Background Check Go?

Most private background check services will only search the previous seven years of criminal records. However in most states they are legally allowed to search back as far as they want.


References

1FTC. (2022, October 27). Fair Credit Reporting Act. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from <https://www.ftc.gov/legal-library/browse/statutes/fair-credit-reporting-act>

2HRA Advisories. (2015, February 27). Ban the Box. Department of Administrative Services. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from <https://doas.ga.gov/human-resources-administration/Announcements/Ban-the-Box>

3The Georgia General Assembly. (2014, March 21). House Bill 845 (As Passed House and Senate). Georgia General Assembly. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from <http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20132014/144364.pdf>

4Judicial Council of Georgia & Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School. (2021, July). Misdemeanor Probation: Georgia and U.S. Constitutional Law. Judicial Council of Georgia | AOC. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from <https://jcaoc.georgiacourts.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2021/07/Misdemeanor-Probation-Georgia-and-U.S.-Constitutional-Law-_%E2%80%93-July-2021-Revision.pdf>

5Georgia Secretary of State. (2021, June 23). Consent Form. Georgia Secretary of State. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from <https://sos.ga.gov/sites/default/files/forms/99%20Form%20-%20Background%20Consent.pdf>

6Georgia.gov. (2021, September 21). Georgia Crime Information Center. Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from <https://gbi.georgia.gov/georgia-crime-information-center>

7Georgia.gov. (2022). Georgia Bureau of Investigation Home Page. Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from <https://gbi.georgia.gov/>

8Georgia.gov. (2022, May 26). Obtaining Criminal History Record Information Frequently Asked Questions. Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from <https://gbi.georgia.gov/services/obtaining-criminal-history-record-information-frequently-asked-questions>

9Judicial Council of Georgia Administrative Office of the Courts. (2022). Georgia Judicial Gateway. Judicial Council of Georgia. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from <https://georgiacourts.gov/>

10FBI. (2022, October 26). Rap Sheets (Identity History Summary Checks). FBI. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from <https://www.fbi.gov/how-we-can-help-you/need-an-fbi-service-or-more-information/identity-history-summary-checks>

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